The Science of Scent

One of our objectives at Oudimentary is to research and preserve this millennium-old tradition of Aloeswood use. From biblical times to the modern age, the use of Aloeswood has existed on four separate levels.

1. On the most rudimentary level, it provides a perfume for the wearer and others to savor and enjoy. A sweet smokiness. An earthy, almost leather-like tone. A hint of berry or dried apricot. These are just some of the descriptions used in attempting to describe the different types and grades of aloeswood. Each oil and wood reacts differently to each individual, therefore giving a highly personalized scent.

2. On the secondary level, the culture surrounding burning aloeswood acts as a social gathering point; the bringing together of friends to enjoy the burning of this sacred wood can provide the bonding and nurturing of friendship. Friends compare and share different oils and woods. Coals are lit, smoke rises, stories are shared, and ultimately relationships are deepened.

3. Next is the level in which the medicinal properties of this rare wood begin to work their magic. In many traditional medicine systems including Chinese, Tibetan, Unani, and Ayurveda, aloeswood has been highly prized for its healing properties. It is known to reverse rebellious chi, and to help the body’s circulatory system. And of course, because Aloeswood is highly psychoactive, it is used to treat nervous disorders such as neurosis, obsessive behavior, and exhaustion.

4. On the most enlightened level, it creates an environment which encourages spiritual remembrance. It is known and taught by the spiritually awakened that the burning smoke from aloeswood not only repels negativity but it calls for angelic beings to come to the place where the scent is emitted. This is a powerful spiritual tool to have, especially in these times of challenge and uncertainty. It creates an environment conducive to spiritual insight and gnosis, and by fumigating oneself, this environment can be carried with the user at all times creating a spiritual armor of sorts.

In the words of one of our teachers in the blessed city of Fez, Morocco, “In the old days, no one would even think of leaving their house without scenting their garments with aloeswood first.”

The process of creating this aura of scent is a simple one—the layering of essential oil extracts from aloeswood (or another attar or perfume) on to the body and clothes in which afterwards the fragrant smoke of burning aloeswood is then allowed to permeate ones garments, etc. This process leaves a sweet-smelling, unique scent, which can last for days. It surrounds the wearer with a type of “aura” that is carried from home, to the workplace, or to wherever the person may go in this vast world.

To assist those interested in this age-old science, Oudimentary has created what we call the five “Oudiments.” These Oudiments are 5 simple steps to Oud Understanding.

Oudiment 1: A wood of your choice. From an unpretentious, earthy Thai wood, to a long-burning heady Burmese, to the finest, sweetest of oud Cambodi, Oudiment number 1 is the foundation of all other Oudiments, and is the foundation to the existence of the Oud-alchemist. Burn it, be it.

Oudiment 2: A fine oil or attar, be it Aloeswood, musk or some other personal favorite. Walk the middle path of moderation with this one. Not too little, not too much. Usually a moderate-sized “swipe” does the trick, applied firstly to the hand, then dabbed behind the ears, possibly in the facial hair, then the rest rubbed between your hands and applied to the rest of the body such as arms, clothes, etc.

Oudiment 3: A mubkhara (oud burner) used exclusively for aloeswood. When embarking on the path to Oud mastery, this is your most prized accessory and dear companion on the path to oud understanding. It is always at your side, patiently waiting for its counterpart-the coal. This brings us to Oudiment number 4.

Oudiment 4: A high quality coal on which to burn the hallowed wood. Flame should be applied to the coal for at least 30 seconds and then a time of at least 5-10 minutes should pass before attempting to place any wood on the coal. A thick layer of ash on the coal tells when the time for burning has begun. Light ‘em up, and then wait for the culmination of the first 4 Oudiments to take place.

Oudiment 5: Companions. This is perhaps the most important. As stated above, The Oudiments are always best served in the company of friends and companions. Enjoy, talk, drum, breathe, learn, build, remember, pray, laugh, be. Essential.
In these days of high-paced workweeks, quick-fixes, drive-thus, and constant bombardment of technology, we find it important to carry on a respected, almost primal tradition in the midst of it all.

Wood. Fire. Smoke. Friends gather, coals are lit. Stories are told, ideas exchanged. People build together, remember together.

We hope you will journey with us and embrace aloeswood’s sacred science of scent.